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Pain Relief

Acetamin vs. Ibuprofen
Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

A recent study has found that acetaminophen, the generic name for products such as Tylenol, is not the best choice for back pain. One reason is that back pain is often inflammatory in nature. For inflammation, one might be better off using ibuprofen, the generic name for products such as Naproxen and Motrin.

Pain is the body’s communication for injury. It is activated by the production of prostaglandins: A group of fatty acids that control inflammation, blood flow and the formation of blood clots. When there is tissue damage, the pain registers at the site of the injury by means of the nerves outside the brain (peripheral nervous system) and from the central nervous system. Fever results from changes in the heat-regulating center of the brain, the hypothalamus.

Acetaminophen belongs to the painkiller group known as non-opioid analgesics. It reduces pain in the central nervous system, allowing for overall pain relief. It does not possess anti-inflammatory properties. Use Acetaminophen for headaches, fever and minor pains.

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It blocks the production of prostaglandin. It works quickly for pain but reduces inflammation more slowly: Sometimes over weeks. Use ibuprofen for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, fever, sprains, and menstrual cramps.

See a doctor for any new, unexplained pain to rule out serious conditions or illnesses such as ulcers, heart, liver, and kidney conditions, or allergies to aspirin products. Some side effects are possible with ibuprofen such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or bloating and indigestion. Watch for black stools, as this may be a sign of bleeding in the stomach.